Exercise and Wear-and-Tear Arthritis

In a recent BBC News article, Michelle Roberts writes, citing British NIH health guidelines draft, that “exercise is good for people with wear-and-tear joint arthritis and should be a ‘core treatment‘”.

“Many wrongly believe that exercise can harm the joints, so this guidance is very important and will hopefully empower patients, and give them more confidence to make healthy lifestyle changes that will really help improve their pain and quality of life.”

– Dr Wendy Holden, spokeswomen, The charity Arthritis Action (source: BBC News)

Dr Paul Chrisp, from National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), told BBC “Muscle strengthening and aerobic exercise can have an impact on not just managing the condition, but also providing people with an improved quality of life.

General Types of exercise

  • Low impact activities such as walking, cycling and exercising in water are good.
  • Strengthening exercises working major muscle groups – such as leg raises if you have a bad knee – can help maintain and improve muscle strength to support and protect the affected joint.
  • Flexibility exercises that include gentle stretching and balancing may be helpful for mobility.
  • Aerobic exercise that increases your heart rate is good for both the heart and lungs as well as staying fit.
  • Remember to warm up before a session and cool down afterwards.

Source: Versus Arthritis and The Arthritis Foundation (cited by BBC News)

Dr Chrisp added “Beginning that journey can be uncomfortable for some people at first, and they should be supported and provided with enough information to help them to manage their condition over a long period of time

“We have taken the decision to not recommend some painkillers, such as paracetamol and some opioids for osteoarthritis.

“This is because new evidence has shown there was little or no benefit. In the case of strong opioids, there was evidence that they can cause harm in the longer term, including possible addiction.”